Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

The Lens: Secret-agent homme

Jun 6, 2008
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Music Box Films

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 6, 2008 - Sometime around 1964 or '65, after the success of the first James Bond films, movie screens - especially drive-ins and neighborhood houses - were besieged by the Attack of the Pseudo-Bonds. From America's Robert Vaughn, (whose TV series "The Man From U.N.C.L.E." was recycled for theatrical release) to Sean Connery's brother, any leading man who could part his hair, hold a gun and look presentable in a dinner jacket had a shot at temporary stardom.

The Lens: Carried away

Jun 5, 2008
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New Line Cinema

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 5, 2008 - It's time for me to come out of the closet: I'm a guy who just saw the new "Sex and the City" film. And I liked it. Not just a little bit, either. A lot. I laughed a lot and actually cried a bit, too, but let's not dwell on that, because dudes don't do that.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 5, 2008 - “Una Cosa Rara” was so popular in 18th-century Vienna that when it first was performed in 1786, it overshadowed Mozart’s new opera “The Marriage of Figaro.”

Mozart and Vincente Martin y Soler, who composed the music of “Cosa Rara,” were, in a sense, school chums. Both studied privately under Bologna music composition master Giovanni Battista Martini. And the libretto, or story, of “Cosa Rara” was written by Lorenzo Da Ponte, a frequent partner with Mozart.

The Lens: Woody, take two

Jun 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008 - An earlier entry on Woody Allen was left incomplete, not from any attempt to create suspense but solely due to the limitations of my cut-and-paste editing technique, which sometimes proves to be biased toward the first task.

So to finish my point ...

What separates most of Allen's work since roughly the early '80s from his earlier films, and what frustrates many of the preconceptions of his critics, is a kind of single-mindedness in his comic approach.

Twangfest adapts to stay alive

Jun 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 3, 2008 - These are hard times in the world of Americana music, a genre that spans all manner of styles from folk, blues, country and bluegrass to rockabilly, alternative country and roots rock.

With CD sales plummeting across the board, the small, independent labels that specialize in Americana have been hit especially hard. An Americana radio format has never really taken off. And two magazines that wrote about the genre with depth and clarity, No Depression and Harp, have shuttered in recent months.

three bed sheet sculptures are cast bronze with rich, blackish patinas. 2008. 300 pals
Courtesy of the gallery | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 2, 2008 - Thank god for artists like Joseph Havel, who make fascinating objects out of the simplest stuff and leave plenty of room for humor.

The Lens: Family ties

May 30, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 30, 2008 -  Though I suppose it made headlines at the time, I don't recall hearing or reading anything about the 1972 death of Barbara Baekeland, an American socialite who married (and divorced) the grandson of the inventor of Bakelite and was murdered by her 25-year-old son, Tony. (But I should point out that until a few years ago I didn't even know what Bakelite was.)

Review: A 'Butterfly' that didn't ascend

May 29, 2008
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Photo by Ken Howard | Opera Theatre St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - In its 33 seasons of life, Opera Theatre of St. Louis has grown into a company of international renown, but equally as important, it has brought to hometown audiences productions of extraordinary quality. “Madame Butterfly” has made regular appearances. The first production was in Forest Park at the Muny, and Butterfly under the stars and the gigantic fans was a night to remember. Subsequent productions, many of them equally memorable, were mounted in 1984, 1992 and 1997.

The Lens: Silver city

May 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - Local cinephiles might consider temporarily abandoning the darkness of the movie theater for the bright lights of the bookstore on Thursday, June 5, when novelist Marisa Silver reads from her lauded new work, “The God of War,” at Left Bank Books , 399 N. Euclid Ave.

Once upon a time, there was 'Sex in the City'

May 29, 2008
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New Line Cinema

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - Can "Sex and the City" be just a movie - or does it have to carry the weight of feminism and social commentary, all the while teetering on precarious 4-inch Manolo Blahnik stiletto heels?

That's a question Carrie Bradshaw might have asked after scanning a theater jam-packed with more women than seats. With many clutching cosmos, the women in this preview audience Wednesday night were obviously psyched about catching up with Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her gal pals Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Samantha (Kim Cattrall) and Charlotte (Kristin Davis).

The Lens: EVERYTHING = CINEMA

May 29, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 29, 2008 - The title of Richard Brody's new book, "Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard" (Metropolitan Books, 702 pages, $40), comes from one of those aphorisms about life and art that flow so easily from its subject, a man who once listed his name in a film's titles as Jean-Luc Cinema Godard. To use a more famous quote, Godard's belief that "Photography is truth, and cinema is truth 24 times a second" has guided his work for the last 50 years, a prodigious output currently standing at more than 75 films and videos of every shape, size and form.

This year's barbecue costs more

May 29, 2008
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St. Louis Beacon archives

The article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 29, 2008 - Here is today's good news, St. Louis: There will be 97-cent pork steaks this Memorial Day weekend -- no ifs, ands or butts about it.

Once again, both Shop 'N Save and Schnucks are promising they "WILL NOT BE UNDERSOLD" on that Gateway City favorite -- pork butts sliced into steaks. And, there's price protection on fresh brats sold in bulk packages, too -- about $1.99/pound.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 29, 2008 - 

At Bruno David

The three shows on view at Bruno David are definitely worth a look.

The Lens: Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

May 27, 2008

This article appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: May 27, 2008 - Sydney Pollack, director, producer and surprisingly effective character actor, was one of a handful of filmmakers who emerged in the early days of television drama and graduated to a successful career in feature films, establishing himself in the late '60s and '70s as the director-of-choice for some of the most prominent movie stars of the New Hollywood.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Act one, scene one: The young woman, 18, with dark hair pulled into a loose ponytail, leaves her high school and heads for the theater. Soon, she finds herself sitting in the dark, fifth row from the stage, off to the side.

The lights go down. The opera begins. Clayton High School senior Sumi Garg waits to take the stage during the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ rehearsal of “The Tales of Hoffmann.”

It’s a small part, her first in opera. It’s her first time even seeing an opera.

The inspiration of Gordon Parks

May 26, 2008
Lent by The Capital Group Foundation, 2002.05 © 2006 The Gordon Parks Foundation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As I was walking through the “Bare Witness: Photographs by Gordon Parks” exhibit at the St. Louis Museum, I was reminded of when I first became familiar with Gordon Parks.

I was a student at Iowa State University on one of my rare "study sessions" at the library. As I remember it, things weren’t going too well and my mind kept wandering off from my studies. So, I got up and looked for photography books.

Tour de 'Hoffmann'

May 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Both Sigmund Freud and his renegade apostle Carl Jung were drawn to the work of the Romantic genius E. T. A. Hoffmann, a legal scholar, composer, painter, poet and, well, a drunk. No surprise really these three men would find each other. The interests and concerns of Freud, Jung and Hoffmann, indeed their lives’ work, were parallel. The foundation of the industry of all three giants was built on journeys into the human unconscious and on examinations of fantasy and the ways in which the unconscious and fantasy manifest themselves in human behavior as well as in great human achievements such as art.

Jennifer Johnson mezzo soprano 300 pxls 2008
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The sensation of a young singer stepping in for an established star -- a "Star is Born" moment -- is adding excitement to Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production of Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann."

On Sat. night, May 24, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson, 23, steps into the dazzling role of Nicklausse, Hoffmann's great companion and muse in "The Tales of Hoffmann." In February she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council's annual auditions and for the next six weeks she is subbing for a resting mezzo soprano. The role has some of the opera's most beautiful arias.

The Lens: News on the march

May 21, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Don't blame me, I voted for Sen. Palantine: We already knew he was influenced by "Star Wars" and "Rambo." Now, as reported on The Screengrab, a Columbia University economist writing in the Financial Times has constructed a Rube Goldberg-like string of events in which Ronald Reagan's economic policies of the 1980s were made possible by ... Travis Bickle. Coming soon: How Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges helped Reagan handle the flight controllers' strike.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This year' 36th annual Gypsy Caravan marks a kind of homecoming for Belleville antiques dealers Al and Jeannine Meinen, as the giant Memorial Day crafts and antiques market returns to the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus after a seven-year hiatus.

"It's always a lot of fun," said Al Meinen, who with his wife, has sold vintage furniture and other primitives at 20 Gypsy Caravan events. "We certainly sell, but we're always buying too, always looking," he said. "And we love visiting with people from all over the country."

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